Conservative MP urges Boris Johnson to stop making jokes
A Conservative MP has launched his bid to chair a Commons committee on international affairs by hitting out at Boris Johnson’s light-hearted style as Foreign Secretary.
Tom Tugendhat said the UK was facing a “new beginning” in its role in the world after the Brexit referendum precipitated the “biggest strategic shift in British foreign policy in generations”.
But the Tonbridge MP warned that Mr Johnson’s jokes risked muddying the image of the UK in the eyes of other countries.
“While huge effort has gone into Brexit, our wider global strategy is less clear,” he wrote in The Times.
“Our friends are watching closely as we reassess our interests.
“When humour is lost in translation it creates misunderstandings with other countries that we can’t afford.”
Shortly after taking up his job at the Foreign Office, Mr Johnson triggered a diplomatic row with the Italian government when he warned the country’s economic development minister that prosecco exports could plunge if the UK was not given agreeable terms for trade after Brexit.
Carlo Calenda said the sparkling wine reference – which he countered by suggesting the UK’s apparent exports of fish and chips would themselves drop – was “a bit insulting”.
Mr Tugendhat is seeking election as the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
He is taking on fellow Tory MP Crispin Blunt, who led the committee during the last parliament.
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